Ice-fishing lovers gather on planet’s deepest lake, Baikal

Every year, more than a thousand fishing enthusiasts from Europe, Asia and even Africa meet on the thick ice of Baikal in Siberia to compete on the frozen banks of the world’s deepest lake, a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. This year, the record was broken with 1,400 participants in 350 teams.

Siberia scrambles to contain swine fever after infected shipment

Russian authorities scramble to seize swine fever-infected sausages after getting test results from an eight-tonne shipment that had crossed the border from Mongolia. The agriculture watchdog in the Siberian region of Buryatia said in a press release it would destroy the infected meat that was imported on January 30. A store chain in Ulan-Ude, the region’s main city, was offering to give customers twice the amount they paid for any sausage returned.

Russian Buddhists celebrate new lunar year in Siberia

Braving freezing temperatures of around minus 40 degrees, Russian Buddhists kick off Lunar New Year celebration with prayers and wishes in the Siberian region of Buryatia near the Mongolian border. While the majority of Russia’s population identifies as Orthodox Christian, there are some 900,000 Buddhists living in the border region, as well as further west in the region of Kalmykia on the Caspian Sea. Buddhists, like other religious groups, suffered persecution from the Soviet authorities, but the post-Soviet years have seen a revival, with teachers of Tibetan Buddhism from other countries playing a major role.

In Siberia, Chinese demand for tusks fuels ‘mammoth’ rush

Mammoth bones are widespread in Yakutia, an enormous region bordering the Arctic Ocean covered by permafrost, which acts as a giant freezer for prehistoric fauna. But over the last few years this part of the world has experienced something of a mammoth rush: after China banned the import and sale of elephant ivory, its traditional carvers turned to the tusks of the elephants’ long-extinct ancestors.

Ice is a lifeline for the world’s coldest region

Yakutia, in northeastern Siberia, is Russia’s largest region and experiences the planet’s coldest temperatures, but for the inhabitants of this remote place, the cold isn’t an obstacle, it sustains their very lives. Braving -41 degrees Celsius, locals harvest ice to use as their only source of potable water as tap water is only available two and a half months of the year due to freezing pipes. With the cost of digging wells too high because of the thick permafrost that freezes the ground all year, the majority of the villages in Yakutia stick to the old ways of ice picks and frozen eyelashes.